History of Industrial Relations

History of Industrial Relations – Industrial relations as a field of study and practice emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a response to the rapid industrialization and expansion of capitalist economies in Europe and North America. As factories and large-scale industries grew, so did the need for labourers and managers to negotiate wages, working conditions, and other employment-related matters.

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The early days of industrialization were marked by harsh working conditions, low wages, and long hours, which led to widespread labour unrest and strikes. In response, governments began to pass labour laws and regulations to protect workers’ rights and ensure fair treatment.

At the same time, scholars and practitioners began to develop new theories and practices for managing labour relations. In Europe, the German sociologist Max Weber and others pioneered the study of industrial sociology and the concept of the “rationalization” of work. In the United States, the industrialist Henry Ford introduced new labour practices such as the 40-hour workweek and profit-sharing schemes.

The emergence of trade unions and collective bargaining also played a significant role in shaping industrial relations. Unions provided a voice for workers and a means of negotiating with employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

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History of Industrial Relations in India

The History of Industrial Relations in India had an evolution period which can be divided into two phases – The pre-Independence phase and the post-independence phase.

Pre-Independence Phase

  • Though the Industrial Revolution in Europe had begun during the eighteenth century and by the nineteenth-century Industries were well established, in India beginning of modern industries was during the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Indigo plantations, established in 1831, may be said to be the first industry in India.
  • A cotton mill was established in 1851 in Bombay (now Mumbai) and jute manufacturing was started in 1855 in Calcutta (now Kolkata).
  • During the early phase of Industrialisation, there was a clear divide between capitalists and labour. Capitalists or employers were in a commanding position; their sole concern was to earn and maximize profits.
  • Workers were treated merely as tools of production. They subsisted on meagre wages, had long working hours, and lived in poor conditions.
  • There were hardly any laws to protect workers.
  • To get rid of such poor working and living conditions, workers gradually began to organise themselves and protest against the atrocities inflicted upon them by their employers. This laid the seeds of trade unionism.
  • In the year 1860, the Indian workers first time revolted against the oppression of Indigo Cultivators in Bengal, followed by the Nagpur protest in 1877.
  • in 1890, the first workers’ association, named Bombay Mill Hands Association, was established with the efforts of N. M. Lokhande.
  • The Trade Union Act came into existence in 1926.
  • The formation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1919 gave a boost to the labour movement.
  • in 1920, the All India Trade Union Congress was established.
  • Establishment of Tripartite consultative machinery in 1942.
  • The Indian National Trade Union Congress was formed in 1947.

Post-Independence Phase

Just after the Independence, the Indian Government wanted to increase industrialisation for growth and generation of employment. So, a tripartite conference was convened in 1947 in which the Industrial Truce Resolution was adopted. It required management and labour to agree to maintain Industrial peace and prevent any work stoppages during the next 3 years to promote Industrial growth.

After Post-Independence Phase, Industrial Relations were a matter of the Five Year plans. Under a series of five-year plans, many steps were taken to improve Industrial Relations. A few are mentioned here:

First Five-Year Plan (1951-56) – In this plan, the government focused on

  • the methods of settling disputes between labour and management through tripartite bodies
  • the need for a grievance procedure
  • Importance of works committees

Second Five-Year Plan (1956-61) – In this plan, the government focused on

  • Norms, codes and methods for achieving harmony and discipline in Industry.
  • It spelt out the need for union recognition.
  • The government introduced a voluntary arbitration process to end unresolved disputes rather than any compulsory adjudication.
  • The government also bring different schemes for workers’ participation in management during this period.
  • established Joint Management Councils in 1958.
  • The Indian Labour Conference held in 1957 emphasised maintaining discipline in industry and the Code of Discipline was evolved in 1958.
  • The workers’ Education scheme was also initiated in 1958 to support industrialisation.

Third Five-Year Plan (1961-66) – In this plan, the government focused on

  • Due to Chinese aggression on India, the Industrial Truce Resolution was adopted in 1962, in which labour and management resolved to settle disputes peacefully and pledged to increase production.
  • Central Wage Boards, Safety Councils and the Model Grievance Procedure were initiated during this period.
  • An Important event during this plan was the appointment of the First National Commission on Labour which took a comprehensive view of Industrial relations in the country in its report.

Fourth Five-Year Plan (1961-66) – In this plan, the government focused on

  • The government declared an Emergency in 1975 to control the ongoing volatile economic conditions in the country and to maintain peace.
  • The Right to Strike was suspended during the emergency period.

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FAQs on the History of Industrial Relations

which is the first industry in India?

Indigo plantations, established in 1831, may be said to be the first industry in India.

what is the name of the First worker association in India?

in 1890, the first workers’ association, named Bombay Mill Hands Association, was established with the efforts of N. M. Lokhande.

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